For the first time since US President Joe Biden took office, he spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday. According to American reports, although Biden dealt a lot with Ukraine as Vice President Obama, he has so far refused to speak with Zelensky because he is not really happy with the performance of the Ukrainian leadership due to the difficulty in fighting corruption. However, on Friday he called Zelensky and assured him that his government would not leave Ukraine in trouble.
Soldiers and weapons gather
It’s not easy to assess the scale of the problem, but something unusual is definitely happening. Last week, the Russian military began a spectacular consolidation of forces on the Ukrainian border, right on the border of a region controlled by the pro-Russian rebels.
The exact number of soldiers to be commanded in the area is actually paradoxical. The commander of the Ukrainian army in the Kiev parliament spoke of 27 battalions in the middle of the week, which could mean as many as 15,000 soldiers whose numbers have reportedly increased since then. Western sources at that time were still talking about the merger of 3-4 thousand Russian soldiers.
What really worries Westerners is that a lot of military vehicles, missile launchers, and helicopters are constantly being transported to the region, as well as medical teams and passengers. That is, if the Russian army was preparing for an invasion, the point would look like this.
According to the Russian government, they will only protect the residents of the region from the increasing Ukrainian aggression and the willingness to intervene by the Western authorities in the conflict.
They shoot too much again
An uprising broke out in two eastern provinces of Ukraine in 2014, which the Russian army certainly helped with arms and money, and at least in the early months of 2015 with soldiers – although the Moscow government only realizes that Russian volunteers can join the uprising individually. . In the aftermath of the fighting, many of Ukraine’s two provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, have functioned as independent republics ever since, with Russian support. There has been a ceasefire in principle since 2015, last confirmed last summer, but there are still regular minor clashes around the narrow demilitarized zone which is in principle between the rebels and the Ukrainian army. In recent years, there have been minor clashes and shootings on a weekly basis, and some villages sometimes change. So far in 2021, 16 Ukrainian soldiers have died in these sporadic battles – the other side does not provide data on their losses.
In the last week of March, these clashes intensified, ending the relative calm that prevailed last summer. Last week was a day when four Ukrainian soldiers were killed. The Ukrainian military claims that they have been shot with large-caliber cannons that neither side can hold there under the ceasefire agreement, and that always firing by the other side, they respond most in self-defense. According to the Ukrainians, the unification of forces did not stop at the border, and these shots were already fired at them by Russian soldiers. According to the Russian government, non-Russian regular forces are shooting.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Thursday that if the military conflict in Donetsk intensifies, it could end in the destruction of Ukraine. Consequently, the Ukrainians fear being provoked until more seriously curtailed, then the Russians will launch a general offensive on this basis.
Due to the growing tension, a large diplomatic factory had already started before Biden and Zelensky’s phone. The French President and German Chancellor spoke to Putin this week, the Commander in Chief of the US and Russian armies spoke to each other, and the US Secretary of Defense and the US Secretary of State also spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart. US forces stationed in Europe have raised levels of combat readiness.
Will there be a war?
Conflict experts speculate about whether the current Russian show of power is about testing the new US government about how far it will go in defending Ukraine, or whether a military strike is already in the pipeline.
The Russian military was active elsewhere in the last week of March, such as commanding three submarines capable of launching nuclear weapons in the North Sea, and the Russian Air Force’s unusual maneuvers are also regular. NATO aircraft, for example, took off only ten times over eastern and northern Europe on Monday due to the suspicious approach of Russian aircraft.
On Friday, the Ukrainian army reported more clashes, including in the vicinity of several villages in Donetsk. The Ukrainians also claim that the authorities of Donetsk and Luhansk have also lined up and on Friday asked all men between the ages of 18 and 27 to apply for armed service.
The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that a tractor plant in Saint Petersburg had complained to the Russian Ministry of Agriculture about the need to halt production due to the suspension of supply of spare parts because the army occupied the railway network for the team’s large moves.